In Love With Your Best Friend? | Just Couple Things | The Timeliners
Can Friends Become Lovers?
You get along so well and love spending time together, so why not become friends with benefits? Before you add intimacy to the mix, find out whether you're willing to risk that friendship if the sex goes sour.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Two out of three college students in a recent survey said they"ve been involved in a "friends with benefits" relationship, and more than a third (36 percent) are currently in one, according to research published in theArchives of Sexual Behavior.Friends with benefits can seem like a tempting idea when you have mutual attraction and a fun friendship - and you want sex without commitment. But before you dive under the covers, consider what becoming lovers could mean for your relationship. Though it"s a good idea to be friends with a romantic partner, it"s not always a good idea to get romantic with your friends.
When the college students were asked about their experience and perspective on friends-with-benefits relationships, they noted that they worried about the future of their friendship, but the majority who had been in such a relationship still had never really talked with their friend/lover about the implications of adding sex to the mix. Friendships successfully transitioned to full-fledged romance only about 10 percent of the time, and more than 25 percent of the arrangements led to the end of the friendship. Those might not be the odds you"re willing to bet on.
"If people are just hooking up to have a sex partner and like each other but don"t have much more in common than sex, it"s probably not a very good idea," notes marriage and family counselor Scott Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage & Family Therapy PhD Program at the Family Therapy Center of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
If you value your friend yet think you"re feeling a sex spark, consider these pros and cons to find out whether it"s worth risking your friendship for sex.
Friends to Lovers: The Pros
- He or she could be "the one."The odds might be against it, but it"s possible that your friend-turned-lover really could be the right person for you to commit to over the long haul. (Whether a casual sex-without-commitment phase is the best way to start that relationship is debatable, however.)
- Sex is fun and good for you.There are health benefits to regular orgasms. That said, those benefits can be achieved through self-stimulation, so you don"t have to have a partner for that healthy glow.
- Trust and caring is a good start.Ideally, your friend is someone who gets you, likes you even with bed head and before coffee in the morning, and isn"t going to post embarrassing photos on Facebook even if the "with benefits" part doesn"t go forward.
- You can stay single.Maybe you want to fool around - and so does your friend - without committing to a long-term romantic partnership. This is one way to do so.
Friends to Lovers: The Cons
- Pregnancy and STDs.Even good friends can pass on an STD or become pregnant, just like anyone else. If it feels awkward to have conversations about contraception and disease prevention, that"s a red flag, points out Johnson. Resist becoming caught up in the moment. Fewer than 10 percent of people in the friends-with-benefits survey reported worrying about STDs.
- Breaking up is hard to do."People get hung up on the belief that we can go from being platonic to sexually involved to back to being friends," Johnson says. "But it"s difficult for that to happen because one person is typically more committed to keeping the relationship romantic." Of note, many of the students surveyed about friends-with-benefits relationships said that developing more intense feelings was a concern for them.
Friends to Lovers: First Steps
Even with a good pal you"ve known for years, love is still a gamble - nothing can guarantee that this relationship will work out over the long run. But if you"re feeling sparks and want to see whether there"s something there, take these steps to build a strong relationship:
- Go on real dates.Sorry, but all those ballgames, concerts, and movies you"ve already gone to don"t count as dates. It"s a good idea to have a period of courtship during which you dress up and share a few romantic evenings. Next, says Johnson, planning longer activities together, such as a weekend getaway, will give you a taste of how you interact as a couple.
- Don"t leap into bed.Postpone sex until you both decide it"s a wise investment in the relationship.
- Talk with a couples counselor.Sure, you"re buddies, but do you really know how well your faith, financial, and family priorities are going to mesh? Sharing these beliefs with help from a trained facilitator can help you identify differences. "If you want to have fun with it, go see a medium and compare notes," says Johnson. The bottom line is that these conversations can help you identify deal breakers - only one of you wants children or what you first thought was charming generosity is really financial irresponsibility - before you make a serious emotional investment.
- See whether you can live with each other"s flaws.When you"re friends, it"s sometimes easy to overlook annoying qualities that quickly turn into sore points within a romantic relationship. Instead of forcing change, learning to tolerate each other"s quirks and flaws will make for a better partnership. But be honest if there are things you just can"t accept because they'll probably always bother you and could erode the relationship.
Friends with benefits might sound like fun, but it could end up costing you both your friendship, and it rarely develops into a long-term romance. Carefully consider the risk before you take the plunge.
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